1920s boom time high School Instructional Performance Task Module


Response from a struggling learner (demonstrating adequate control)



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Response from a struggling learner (demonstrating adequate control)


Valerio’s view of the American Dream compared to his mother Hattie Valerie’s illusion of the American Dream is “He was all for getting the good things out of life.” (Hughes 185). Valerio didn’t have successes in his view of getting the good things because he didn’t want to work hard to achieve his money compared to his mother Hattie. In the short story “Spanish Blood” by Langston Hughes, Valerio and his mother lived in the small city of Manhattan, during the prohibition times where his mother Hattie worked as a Harlem laundress. Valerio and his mother Hattie had very different views on life. His mother Hattie is a hardworking person with a more traditional personality. Whereas, Valerio was more open minded and had a more liberal personality. Vaerio’s liberal views of the American Dream contrast to the traditional views of his mother Hattie: Valerio seeks easy money whereas Hattie staunchly believes in work ethic.
Valerio is a young man who is all about seeking easy money. As Valerio grow up he was the best at the Rhumba dance: ergo, he used it to his advantage and got a job at a night club where he was hired to introduce the Rhumba. Valerio agreed to take the job because he liked to do the Rhumba dance and he also liked hanging out a night clubs. Valerio saw this as a way to work without using much effort and to seek easy money. “In contrast to a Victorian society that had placed a high premium on thrift and saving the new consumer society emphasized spending and borrowing.” (“Mass Culture” 2). Valerio seeks easy money from all the women that were paying to watch him dance. Valerio wanted to live an effortless life but he didn’t work for it in the view of his mother Hattie.
Moreover, Hattie lived in reality and had a more traditional view on life. Valerio’s mother Hattie believed in earning her living by working hard every day. Hattie was opposed to Valerio’s idea of climbing the sexual ladder so quickly as a way of earning money. Hattie was a prejudice woman who wanted to live and engage with people of her own race, whereas, Valerio wanted to hang around with everyone. “He was smart and amusing out of school. But he wouldn’t work.” (Hughes 184). Valerio’s mother Hattie was willing to work hard and on the other hand she was worried about Valerio not being willing to work.
Valerio’s perspective of work or lack thereof, leads to his downfall. Valerio was a liberal because he thought he could live his life by the seat of his pants. While his mother Hattie was a hardworking woman and trying to make the best of her life. Valerio lived his life by taking the road full of high risks, and finally crashing at the end. Whereas, Hattie strived to life the perfect American Dream and survived many of her own obstacles. The American Dream of Valerio was the total opposite of his mother Hattie’s.

The writer introduces the claim in the first paragraph, supporting the claim/opinion with facts and details from the fictional source (the short story “Spanish Blood”) - “Valerio didn’t have successes in his view of getting the good things because he didn’t want to work hard to achieve his money compared to his mother Hattie” - in an attempt to point out the strengths of his argument. However, the limited focus in the introductory paragraph – merely contrasting Valerio’s lifestyle with that of his mother as opposed to linking Valerio’s choices to the non-fictional piece on Mass Culture – leads to ultimate weak development of the argument. Additionally, this limited focus does not adequately establish the significance of the claim.

The student uses some words, phrases and clauses from both sources (“Mass Culture”, the nonfiction piece along with quotes and details from “Spanish Blood”) to attempt cohesion, and clarify the relationships between the literary and on-literary sources. Once again, however, the sometimes disjointed writing lacks the words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of text and create true cohesion (ideas are occasionally rambling and repetitive).


The writing does contain errors in language conventions; however, these errors do not interfere with understanding (“Hattie was a prejudice woman”, change from present to past tense (“Hattie is a hard-working person…Valerio was more open minded”). The grammatical errors; however, do give the reader pause nor do they detract from the overall argument.
The writer continues to attempt to weave facts from the informational text with relevant details from the short story. However, the writing has a progression of ideas that (may) lack cohesion (ideas that may be rambling and/or repetitive) as the writer continues to list details that demonstrate the differences between mother and son, but do not promote the premise of the argument.

The writer ends the argument with a concluding statement that follows from and supports the argument presented: Valerio and his mother differ in their beliefs and values. However, the argument itself fails to fully address the main purpose of the essay: to prove that characters in the short story reflect the motifs presented in the non-fictional text on the 1920’s.



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